Ed: What makes you so different? And who are you to criticize other players all the time?Lao Du: Well, I am different. It’s probably because I’m not a pleasant guy from Pleasantville. I come from another place, and let’s just say that I have certain abilities that most inhabitants of this burg don’t have. I can see things that they can’t.
Ed.: Sounds like you come from another world. Would you be from Superman’s planet, Krypton, by any chance?
Lao Du: Very funny. No, I’m not from there.
Ed.: You’re not related to Clark Kent? Sent here in a small rocket ship by Jor-El before Krypton exploded?
Lao Du: No, I’m human. As a matter of fact, I was born feet first in Thornwood – a breech delivery!
Ed.: Oh! Well, I guess that explains everything. In that great metropolis, Thornwood, you might even be able to leap over their little puny buildings in a single bound.
Lao Du: Well, I tried to do that once when I was a kid. Didn’t quite make it. Hurt my knees. And I’m probably not more powerful than a locomotive or faster than a speeding bullet at this point in my life, either. However, my x-ray vision still works, thank goodness for that! I can see things. And, thankfully, that special vision lets me know what’s goin’ on.
Ed.: Marvin Gaye knew what was goin’ on, too. Didn’t help him, though – his father shot him three times.
Lao Du: No, no, no. I’m talkin’ about what’s goin’ on in ping pong. And my father never shot me – he missed.
Okay, so maybe the editor is right. Who am I to criticize other players for being hasty and acting carelessly with their shot selection when playing a game of ping pong. Yeah, because no one is probably more impulsive than me. See, I’ve been known to buy TV’s and electric heaters in supermarkets. Guilty. Nevertheless, my being a grumbling faultfinder leads me to pick apart some players who don’t seem to have a head connected to the rest of their bodies when I see them making appalling strategic mistakes during a match. I’m just tryin’ to help. C’mon, if a guy has a really good forehand topspin smash, why would any rational human being keep on teeing up (on a platter) a serve into that guy’s wheelhouse (i.e., serving up a topspin serve to his forehand)? And ya know, the crazy thing about this is that a lot of these guys doing these kinds of stupid things are really smart. We’re talkin’ about doctors, engineers and lawyers with high IQ’s who aced the SAT’s. (Well, maybe not the lawyahs.) Here’s the thing: In ping pong, many (most?) players have little insight into what they’re actually doing. In fact, most don’t have a clue as to what’s going on – why they are losing or winning, what tactics are employed by their opponents (or by themselves!) … or whether it’s sunny or cloudy outside. Clueless! It’s ping pong anosognosia!
Anosognosia is a psychiatric term. It means a lack of insight, an inability to perceive things about oneself. It could be the single largest reason why psychotic people don’t take their meds… and why ping pong players curse and angrily bang the tables with their rackets when they are losing.
These players are, for the most part, unaware and inattentive. It’s like they’re playing while unconscious – in a blue funk - with no rhyme or reason for their actions. They’re nuts! I think we can agree on that (can’t we?). But why? Why is there a legion of meatheads playing at our club and living in Loserville? (Ed. Is that an exit off the Saw Mill?) It’s a difficult question to answer. I mean it’s like asking why people, even smart people, repetitively do stupid things in the first place? (Ed. like buying TVs at ShopRite?)
I think I have some understanding of this phenomenon. (Ed. You must have special powers.) I think I can explain it, although it’s another thing, a difficult task, to alter or modify these illogical, idiotic behaviors.
Anosognosia, as noted above, is a self-awareness problem, which prevents these guys from knowing what’s going on. Are they brain-damaged? Well, maybe some of ‘em. Or, maybe the lot of them. (I’ll have to think about that.) Now, you may ask: Is anosognosia s sign of mental illness? Well, lemme put it to ya this way: It aint a sign of mental health, okay! And you can’t lock people up for stupidity – they have rights in a free country. Yeah, they have the right to be stupid. (Ed. Is that in the Bill of Rights?)
Someone with anosognosia isn't simply in denial or being stubborn. Their capacity to process reality is severely dimninished, and they’re just not getting an accurate picture of themselves and what’s happening when they’re competing in a game. I dunno, maybe we’ll find some brain lesions if we do some CAT scans or MRI’s. Better check out their frontal lobes.
Of course, it’s not all black and white, an all or none thing. Maybe some of these guys have a little insight. Maybe just a little. But, I’m tellin’ ya, most of ‘em just don’t get it! And most of them stubbornly stick to their denials and misperceptions. Trying to help modify someone with that kind of recalcitrant, obtuse mindset is well-nigh impossible. It’s really a waste of time, anyway. I’ve tried to show these guys the righteous path toward enlightenment. Guess what? They not only have no capacity for rational thinking, they actually resent my helpful interventions. Ingrates! That’s what they are.
Ed. Maybe they just don’t like your putting your big nose where it doesn’t belong.
LD: Oh, it belongs.
Now, there’s another related, overlapping syndrome that connects to anosognosia. I’m referring to the Dunning-Kruger effect, which basically proposes that people with low abilities and skills overrate themselves. These two researchers used the phrase illusory superiority to describe how the majority of people don’t realize that they’re not so hot at doing stuff as they mistakenly perceive themselves. In other words, dunces don’t know that they are in fact dunces! Now that’s a mighty hurdle to overcome if you wish to improve performance, as the object person may not see any need for improvement.
Editor: So the Dunning-Kruger Effect explains why unskilled people think they know it all and are overconfident. Isn’t that you?
LD: No, not at all. There are big difference between me and the mindless masses. See, I’m aware of my flaws and weaknesses, as well as my strong points. Therefore, I can act to improve my deficiencies.
Ed: Lucky you. I suppose your x-ray vision helps a lot, too.
LD: Please! I only said that to explain that I see things that others don’t. Wasn’t meant to be taken literally.
Ed.: All right, all right, so then what does this all mean? If you’re so smart about these things, then how come you lose all the time?
Lao Du: I lose because Apple has expanded its array of products that create electromagnetic interference. Now, since I have an implanted cardiac device, a pacemaker, I can hardly endure the kryptonic-like, paralyzing effect these things have on my heart. Also, I lose mainly because there is someone shining a light in my eyes while I’m trying to play.
Ed.: Someone shining a light in your eyes? Are you sure?
Lao Du: Of course, I’m sure. Wouldn’t I be winning if it weren’t true?